Impact Stories: Fighting period poverty in a pandemic with The Zubin Foundation

In this piece we reflect on our two-year-long period poverty project, The Red Box, during which we worked with The Zubin Foundation to support girls from underserved ethnic minority communities in Hong Kong throughout the pandemic.

Why we launched The Red Box Project

1 in 4 ethnic minority families in Hong Kong live in poverty, meaning the imposed cost of buying menstrual products is often a financial burden. This was worsened by the pandemic, with household incomes further strained and menstrual product supply chains disrupted, leaving shelves often empty. 

(Photo credit SCMP Coronavirus panic buying)

Being without necessary menstrual care is not just a financial burden, but often a physical and mental health challenge as well, which no one should have to endure.

In response to this, we worked with The Zubin Foundation, whose aim is to improve the lives of ethnic minorities in Hong Kong, to launch The Red Box project. This project allowed us to support families and individuals during this difficult time, by providing regular deliveries of free menstrual products, as well as educational sessions to promote mental and physical self-care.

Vinee Kapoor, Project Manager at The Zubin Foundation said:

“When we started the programme during COVID-19, our aim was to provide immediate relief to those who were unable to procure safe and hygienic period care products. However, as the project progressed it gave us more than that.

The Red Box not only supported our women by reducing their financial burden and providing them with hygienic period care products, but it also became a point of touch for us to understand their living conditions better - their religions beliefs and systems, their status in the community, and their physical and mental well-being. Thanks to The Red Box we could identify both vulnerable and aspiring women and provide them with emotional support and opportunities!”

(Vinee Kapoor seated second from the left speaking at LUÜNA's Empowered, Period. Event on June 1st)

What it involved.

This project involved quarterly deliveries of organic cotton LUÜNA pads to young girls from underserved ethnic minority communities in Hong Kong. These deliveries were accompanied by optional online empowerment events hosted by the Foundation and the LUÜNA team, covering an array of topics from menstrual health, to self-confidence and emotional well-being.

(Self-care Yoga session kindly hosted at Garage Society & yoga mats gifted by Lululemon)

Impact highlights.

A span of two years saw us extend our support to over 900 young girls and distribute more than 100,000 LUÜNA pads. During regular surveys, we saw positive insights including: 

  • 61% said this lessened the financial burden of menstruation on their families
  • 61% said their relationship with their period had improved since joining The Red Box project.
  • 27% reduction in girls missing school because of their period due to The Red Box project.

(LUÜNA and Zubin Foundation team members pack Red Boxes for delivery)

Here, we share some of the powerful insights from The Red Box Project participants:

“I think that access to free menstrual products would mean a lot to any female in need, as it would help them to not view their period as a financial burden on top of all the other problems associated with having periods. It would promote a healthy perspective for them in regard to their period.”

“I think every woman has the right to feel good about themselves, and LUÜNA is a great fit to start off with and to be more diverse and open.”

“My relationship with my period is healthier after trying out organic pads that I may not have otherwise considered. Moreover, since I have free access to them myself, I willingly share them with some friends when they need it in emergencies, and this also positively impacts my confidence in dealing with periods in general.”

“Since we are a family of four girls, we feel that having free mensuration products is a relief on financial spending. Besides, all the comfort of LUÜNA pads has given us a different (experience) than what we buy, as the quality isn’t great. LUÜNA is way better since for me, I felt a burning sensation with this other brand.”

“I joined the workshop in which I learned about self esteem and how to avoid people impacting us.” 

“I am inspired to more confidently speak about periods with others and help end the taboo associated with this natural process.”

What we learnt and how this impacts our future projects

The Red Box Project offered us valuable insights which we are integrating into our upcoming projects like The Empowered Period Project. We have summarized some of these below:

  • During reach out and empowerment sessions, many participants shared their personal stories around menstruation and taboos around it. This allowed us to gain knowledge about their community and practices, and helped us plan our future workshops better.
  • During COVID-19, with the lockdown and restrictions, a few of the Red Box Project women expressed their desire to get emotional well-being support. The Foundation’s ethnic minority well-being center assessed such women, provided necessary support and free counseling (if required).
  • Some participants expressed a desire for LUÜNA to introduce longer pads. This is something we are already working on internally.
  • Logistics costs were substantial. We are collaborating with logistics partners to optimize this, in the hopes of reducing expenditure in this area.
  • With the pandemic behind us, we aspire to host more offline events for recipients of our products, as we saw how important community and mental health support is. Factors like travel expenses for participants and more convenient venue availability require consideration as we budget for upcoming projects.
  • While reusable menstrual cups were available for all participants, the uptake was not strong. Transparently, this was not a priority for us during The Red Box Project, but an outcome we hope to focus on for future work through continued education around reusable options. Moreover, we are working on ways to provide reusable options other than the LUÜNA Cup to meet personal preferences, and be sensitive to cultural attitudes around menstrual care products.  

A thank you to our partners at The Zubin Foundation

Finally, we would like to express our deep gratitude to The Zubin Foundation team, who provided thoughtful insights and operational expertise to ensure this project was delivered with impact, consideration and care as we, at LUÜNA, gain understanding in navigating the experience of menstruation within different communities. We were honored to be selected as your partner in this. We also thank the participants, the girls and their family members, who shared their feedback with us throughout. We are proud to be part of your community.   

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